2011 in review (as summarized by WordPress.com)

My first year of blogging, beautifully summarized by the good people at WordPress.com. Turns out I have “fans” in South Africa and Indonesia. Who knew. Thanks to everyone who read my posts. I’ll try to be better about sticking with the post a week this year.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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I gotta feeling …


This past weekend my mom’s office held their annual Christmas party. As far as office Christmas parties go, theirs has always been pretty awesome. I’ve attended several in the past as a guest. But this year I talked my mom into hiring Toby and I (and our then non-existent photo booth) to “shoot” their party. I will go into more detail on the photo booth in a future post. For now I’ll just share some pictures from the evening.

In addition to adding the photo booth, they also had us shoot some candid shots and hired a DJ. And he was actually amazing. He was pretty good at getting everyone out on the dance floor and his music selection was great.


The DJ also did some bingo calling for them. The grand prize was a new television. To win you had to get a blackout. There were two ladies in the running who each had just one space left to fill. Turns out that space was the same number. In the end they had to play rock, paper, scissors for the TV.

As for the photo booth, it was pretty awesome (if I do say so myself). It took everyone a while to get into the picture taking, but once they got started, we got some great material.




I’ve been to several great Tulsa Dermatology Clinic Christmas parties, but this was, hands down, the best party they have ever thrown. Thank you all for a great party and I hope you enjoy your pictures. We really enjoyed taking them.

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Sneak peak …

This weekend Toby and I completed a new project. This particular project has actually been several years in the making, but it was well worth the wait. We unveiled our new baby this weekend at my mom’s company Christmas party. Although I’m still working through all my image files, I did want to quickly show off a bit of what our creation does. So here goes:

Look for more photo booth/ Christmas party posts in the near future.

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Your mom may be a midwife if …

This past weekend our little family headed south to visit some friends. Not to Texas mind you, just to South Tulsa. These friends used to be neighbors, but for some inexplicable reason chose to leave this fabulous neighborhood and move out to the ‘burbs. Yes, their new house is big enough for us to live there with them for several weeks without their knowledge. And yes, they live within miles of both of Tulsa’s Super Targets. But do they have awesome neighbors? NO!! But regardless of their choice of locale, we still love them, so Saturday night we made the long trek out south to watch some football.

Steele was especially excited because our former neighbors have two kids about his age. Their older child has been one of his best friends for his entire life. We all had a great time hanging out and the kids had a great time playing together. As the kiddos evening was winding down toward a late bedtime, Steele’s friend discovered a fun game. She decided to use her dad’s man-style crossed legs as a tunnel to crawl through. Because she is awesome and older, Steele had to follow her example and crawl through too. This went on for several minutes, with the kids eventually switching to sliding through their tunnel headfirst (Her idea. My kid’s way too timid to think of that one).

And then it happened. Steele is trying to get through the tunnel, but he gets stuck (dad may have been decreasing the width of the tunnel at this point). As he is struggling to get through his friend pipes up with “that’s a big vagina”. Hilarious, I know. The statement is even funnier if you know what her mom does for a living. She works with vaginas (she is a midwife to be exact). Sadly her mom missed out on this hilarity. But I’m sure she would be very proud. And she should be proud of her husband too. He clearly has been doing his Kegels.

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Cheers, Chelle

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Today my youngest little sister turns 21.

In my mind there are actually two Chelles. There is the pretty obnoxious youngest sister I thought I had for so many years. The one who always seemed to have her hair in her mouth and who could chew on the same bite of food for hours. The one who threw a screaming, stomping fit in a parking lot because she had to share a soda (although she would tell me it’s a pop) with her sister.

And then there is my actual sister, as I’ve come to know her. She’s a sub-5-foot tall, tiny little bundle of awesome. She’s so awesome, in fact, that I almost feel bad for holding her early childhood behavior against her for so long. Especially when I factor in my current experience as a parent. If there is one thing that living with a two year old has taught me, it’s that small children are all, at times, very obnoxious people. While the jury may still be out as to whether Chelle was actually a very obnoxious child or I was just a very intolerant teenager, what is certain, is that she is one of my favorite people in the world.

I love her unique sense of style and humor. I love that we can go see Yo Gabba Gabba live for the pure enjoyment of seeing a favorite show live, on stage. I love that she appreciates the humor in the crazy gospel station we found driving home from Orlando in the middle of a rain storm. And I’m so impressed with her maturity in handling all the curve balls life has thrown at her in the last few years. In some ways, it actually seems a bit strange that she is just now turning 21 (although she does looks like a twelve year old).

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We share a very unique sense of style and humor, but Chelle has always embodied her uniqueness in a way that I never could.

I find it hard to put into words what I love so much about my youngest sister. But trust me. If you’re one of those people who shares my love for Yo Gabba Gabba, strange gospel stations and princess karaoke, you’ll think Chelle is the bees knees.

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And if you’re not so much into those types of things, check out these killer baby blues. With eyes like that, you can get away with a little obnoxiousness now and then.

Happy birthday Chelle. I love you!

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Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain?

Karaoke

I had a birthday a few weeks back. As is our tradition, my sisters and I got together for dinner for my birthday. As is also our tradition, we relied on Felicia to arrange everything. When she first broached the subject she asked me if Friday, October 15, would be good for my birthday dinner. She explained that my birthday was on a Sunday, so we needed to have the dinner on a different day. I didn’t see any real need to avoid Sunday, but I figured it must have something to do with everyone else’s busy work schedules. So I told her that I was not busy. I did make sure to point out that the day she had selected was nearly a week after my birthday and that there was a perfectly good Friday available just two days before my birthday. But again, I chalked this strangeness up to everyone else’s busy work schedule.

So a couple of weeks passed before I heard anymore about my birthday dinner. On the Monday before my birthday dinner (which would be the day after my actual birthday) I got a message from Felicia asking if there was somewhere I would like to go out to eat, or would I like to cook something together. Since I don’t get out much, I probably should have chosen the dinner out, but cooking together sounded like a lot of fun, so I went with that choice. I also decided to see if Toby could watch Steele because I thought it might be nice to get to hang out with just sisters for a change. Turns out Felicia beat me to the punch. Toby said she already asked him to watch Steele and was actually surprised that I knew about the dinner. In addition to Toby’s aforementioned comment, I also had been told by Felicia a few weeks earlier that she had a great idea for my birthday. I suppose I should have suspected something at this point, but I didn’t.

Fast forward a few days and its the day before the “big” event. Felicia and I message back and forth a few times trying to figure out what we are going to cook and what she needs to buy. Somewhere in all this messaging I realize that my birthday party is going to be held at my house. It seems a bit strange to me that I’ve been volunteered to host my own birthday party, but I do have the best house for the event, so I don’t worry about it too much. Mostly I was super excited to get to spend an evening with just the girls. And the pasta dish we were going to be “cooking” looked really yummy.

The big day finally arrives and I get the house “guest ready” and Steele and I head off to swim class. I left Toby in charge of the last minute cleaning preparation. Steele and I arrive back at my house to find all of my sisters there. I pack up Steele to go off to the park with his dad, and we get to the business of cooking dinner. I do make one important stop before the dinner prep. I headed next door to borrow my neighbor’s karaoke machine. I had just downloaded Disney’s Princess Karaoke and was eager to share it with my sisters. Especially Chelle, who shares my love of singing badly, especially to Disney Princess songs. I do not, however, take the Karaoke machine to its most logical destination: the basement. Felicia asks me if I’m going to take the karaoke machine to the basement, but I say I’ll do it after dinner (I wanted to make sure I could get it working before I lugged it downstairs). As with many of the strange particulars surrounding this party, the basement question should have piqued my curiosity, but it didn’t. I went about making dinner.

It wasn’t until around 7:30-8:00 pm that I began to get very curious as to what was going on. We had finished dinner and the sun had completely set. Mostly I was wondering what my son was doing at a park for so long and so late at night. It was at this point that I decided to fire up the karaoke. Again, Felicia encouraged me to take the machine downstairs. I figured she must be concerned for my neighbors (I had several windows in the house open). So I packed up the machine and we headed downstairs. This is when I was finally let in on the surprise. Felicia informed me that they were all staying the night. We were having a slumber party! Suddenly it all began to make sense. The date they selected was because of my oldest little sister’s custody arrangement. And Sunday would not work for a party day because it was a slumber party. Lastly, the party was at my house because it was a slumber party (I had mentioned to Felicia a few months back that I wanted to host a sister slumber party). And most importantly, my son was not at the park for two hours in the dark, he was at his grandmother’s spending the night.

This was hands down, the best birthday party I have ever had. The basement was completely decorated. We had a pinata and played pin the tail on the donkey. We had some very tasty adult beverages (featuring my most beloved Bombay Sapphire). And we had Princess Karaoke. We even took our singing skills on the road, “caroling” for my neighbors. The party would have been amazing even without the slumber party element, but I’ve never been thrown a surprise party (and they did a mighty fine job of keeping it a secret). I love being around my sisters. When I’m with them, I’m much more myself than with anyone else. I had a blast and am so grateful to be related to four of the most amazing people I have ever met.


I edited my oldest little sister’s video footage down to a more watchable length. I also saved everyone the horror pleasure of listening to our singing. Feel free to sing along with “Colors of the Wind” as you watch. On a side note, Chelle isn’t crying during the filming of the pinata slaying. She just has “hasfestus” in her eye.

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Toby set up the “photo studio” for us, but the girls forgot about it until midnight, so we didn’t take many pictures. I did get some great shots of Chelle and Blair though.

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Give me a “B” …

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Today is my little sister’s birthday. I can’t believe she’s already 27. I remember going to see her in the hospital when she was born. Of course, I also remember going to see her in the hospital when she had both of her children. I’ve just been around that long.

I’ve been blessed with many wonderful sisters and Blair is no exception. She is both kind and generous. She is a wonderful mother (whose lead I often try to follow when raising my own son). She has an amazing ability to choose wonderful gifts for people (which I think shows an immense amount of empathy on her part). She has a wonderful, wacky sense of humor and she is just plain fun to be around.

Happy birthday today to my second oldest baby sister. You brighten my mood every time I see you. I love you and hope you have a wonderful birthday.

Blair

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This weekend …

Quite a bit happened this weekend.

I converted Steele’s crib to a toddler bed. He is now free to roam about the house.

I began my first serious attempt to potty train Steele. So far I’m pretty pleased with the results. It probably helps that I headed into my potty training adventure with very low expectations.

I led my running group on a 12 mile run at the crack of dawn on Saturday. For many of them this was their longest run ever. And a distance I’m sure some of them thought they could never complete.

I agreed to watch my niece today for a few hours and ended up watching a friends little girl as well. Both girls arrived around the time Steele should have been taking a nap. And both girls are very beloved by my son. Obviously I could not expect him to nap under these circumstances (especially now that he has the freedom not to stay in his bed). After several fatigue induced meltdowns, I finally took him screaming upstairs where he pretty quickly fell asleep. The girls had a great time together and I enjoyed getting to experience some female children for a change.

Last, and most important, this weekend marked the birthday of my most beloved female of all time. Today my mom turned 60.
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Steele and I took her to Starbucks to celebrate … where we were attacked by a very persistent bee.

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On being an old person

I realize I’m not actually an old person yet. I also realize the definition of an old person is completely relative. To my son, I’m an old person. To the cute little girls who gave me a tour of the genius school I want to send my son to, I’m an old person. But to my mom, my dad, my grandmother, many of my friends, I’m still a young person.

I’ve become fascinated lately with how much my perception of age has changed as I’ve aged. When I was a kid I thought my grandparents were really old. At one point in my life I tried to determine whether my dad’s mom or my mom’s parents were the oldest people alive. What can I say. I was very young and they were the oldest people I knew. Now that I have a son, I think his grandparents seem much younger than my grandparents ever were. They’re not. They’re older than my mom’s parents were when I was Steele’s age. In fact, if I’ve done my math correctly, when I was a preschooler my maternal grandmother was not much older than Steele’s father is now. Still, she looked (and still does) like a grandmother to me. My mom, on the other hand, still looks like my mom. Just a bit blonder than when I was a kid.

What brought this whole idea to mind was an event that happened earlier this week. I stopped in a Starbucks just before lunch for a cup of coffee (I’d recently won a $5 gift card). In the Starbucks I spotted my high school German teacher. She looked great. In fact, she seemed to have aged backwards. I imagine this is partly due to aging well. But mostly its because the last time I saw her, I was a teenager. Although she was not that old at the time, to my teenage eyes, she seemed really old. But it’s now been almost 20 years since I left high school. Now that I’m an old person, she seems much younger than I remember her being.

Today is my birthday. I’m 36 years old. Old enough that it takes me several seconds to figure out just how old I actually am. I don’t generally think of myself as old. But I do realize that I’m about as old as people that my younger self classified as really old.

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Swim School revisited

As I mentioned in an earlier post, following a not-so-impressive first swim class, I decided to put my son in swim school for the entire fall/ winter session. After his somewhat lukewarm reception to his first swimming class, I thought it would be best to keep him swimming over the colder months, so he didn’t have an even less positive reaction to the pool next summer. In preparation for his swimming boot camp we did take a month off from swim classes and went for regular fun swims at my grandmother’s pool. This worked wonders. By the end of the summer my son loved the pool again and had learned to tolerate going under water and to actually hold his breath when being submerged.

After our month off, I entered our new swim class with renewed confidence and hope. An admittedly selfish hope that I would soon be able to get out of swim class and let Steele swim on his own while I watched from the comfort of the glass box with all the other parents. Sadly my hopes for getting out of the pool were quickly dashed on the first day of class. Sure, my kid had shown dramatic improvement, but it clearly would not be enough to get us to the next level. Our current level had two swim studs in it. These kids were practically ready for the olympic team and their parents were still stuck in that pool week after week (children’s swim abilities were very slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect). Needless to say, I felt that our initial class had given me a false sense of security. But we bravely soldiered on and Steele did really well. He was never quite up to “swim stud” level, but he was darn close. It also helped that some other poor parent had a child that cried through the entire class every week. It made me feel a little bit better about our first swim class (Steele only cried through 25-50% of every class).

Then “ribbon week” arrived. “Ribbon week” is essentially report card week for swim school. There are certain skills your child is supposed to be able to perform in order to receive ribbons and to eventually move on to the next level. I approached ribbon week with a bit of trepidation. I was a bit excited by the possibility of ribbons for Steele (we did not get a ribbon for our first class), but I was also a bit worried that he wouldn’t get any. But it turns out that my neurotic behavior motherly concern was all unnecessary. Not only did Steele earn 4 ribbons, he also graduated to the next class. I have to say I am very excited to get to wear less revealing attire to future swim classes and I am very proud of my little swim stud.


Steele, showing off his well deserved ribbons (there is a fourth ribbon in the hand that I “artistically” cropped out of the picture).

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